Parental view on the European Education Area

The European Commission has initiated a public consultation on their Roadmap towards a European Education Area. Based on the experiences of our research done for the #NewEducationDeal #ParentsFirst initiative we have publicly shared a parental view on where the plans are in line with families’ and students’ needs and what requires bolder than planned steps. The public consultation is based on this document. Read our reaction below. We will closely monitor the next steps and lobby as necessary for a better education for children in Europe.

Making the European Education Area a reality is a crucial element of ensuring the future of Europe and the future of European children. The issues highlighted in the roadmap are all very relevant, and we would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of them based on our research and #NewEducationDeal campaign results. We believe that the current EU initiative is aiming at achieving SDG4, and we find it very important to focus on equity and inclusion with a strong support through open schooling, participatory processes and diversity.

A European Education Area should boldly aim for ensuring fundamental rights of children and – using the European Pillar of Social Rights initiative example – to go beyond the re-occurring explanation that education is national competence. Europe cannot afford weak school systems educating future unemployed citizens, and also there is a need for EU member states to work towards ensuring all education related rights, including the right to quality, inclusive education, an uninterrupted seamless transition from school to school over borders in state financed schools as well as mother tongue and mother culture education even if a child’s parents decide to exercise their basic right to be mobile EU workers. This is a topic the EU has not done anything about yet, and it results in a major rights deprivation of young EU citizens living in countries where their mother tongue is not an official language, and governments strictly implementing education in their official language(s) only.

With regards to the roadmap, first of all we want to highlight the importance of using the word educators very carefully and broadly. The European Commission tends to mean professional educators or even only teachers by educators, while especially the past few months have highlighted parents as primary educators. This role of parents as educators has been known for decades, but legislation often overlooks the need to empower parents, the primary – first and most impacting – educators of children.

Another element we would like to highlight is the link between rethinking basic competences and reaching the aim of educating lifelong learners. Our research shows that content-heavy curricula and education inflation are often main reasons for people abandoning learning. An agreement on what basic skills, competences and knowledge are to be fostered by school is a basis for preventing early school leaving and also for people to be become lifelong learners. Parents International has built a wide coalition to define these necessary basics, consisting of education stakeholders, academics, the world of work and other players. We are happy to contribute when the debate on this is being organised as we have already invested into it heavily both in Europe and globally.

I’m enclosing the Parents International call for action #NewEducationDeal #ParentsFirst highlighting the most important areas parents wish to be engaged in – being part of constructing new policy and practice together.  #NewEducationDeal is a global parent initiative with a very strong research base, emphasising learning points of the current COVID mayhem and parent experiences in general with the aim of achieving SDG4. This initiative has been widely supported by governments (including some EU member states), school leaders, education stakeholders and academia, and we hope that the current roadmap is also a step towards making the wish of parents and families in education for a better future for today’s children a reality.

The final element we would like to emphasise is the need to involve not only your “social partners”, but at least the main education stakeholders: students of all ages (even the youngest ones), parents, school leaders and teachers, as well as teacher training providers in all steps of the decision making process. Without this the initiative is deemed to fail.

(This statement could not be more detailed due to length restrictions by the European Commission.)

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